At the start of the year a wonderful little art attack called The Worm of Eternal Return popped up on my radar as a teaser for an eight years in the making album. Well, the waiting is over and if that strange song, built from equal measures quirk, wit and a Mighty Boosh induced wisdom, offered a tantalising peak into the weird world of The Grubby Mitts, it certainly didn’t prepare me anything like enough for the expanse and originality of the album to come.
Firstly this is not just a debut album, a record of merely where the band is now, but a musical history of the path that got them to this point. It also takes an album of 18 tracks to even begin to cover the wonderful scope of the band as a myriad of different sounds and styles jostle cheek by jowl for your attention. Quintessentially English, baroque pop songs, ambient electronica, classical and choral pieces, spoken word poetic lists, subverted krautrock, late-night, bar room jazz, weird-folk and a bag of strange sound effects are just the tip of this iceberg, the remaining, sunken nine-tenths being almost impossible to put into words that will convey any real meaning.
The bands artistic background comes as no surprise as here they treat music in the same fashion, making sound collages, hopping generic boundaries without a backward glance, plundering recognisable forms and merging them into chimeric hybrids. If modern music can be seen as chemistry, a formula followed to obtain an expected result, then The Grubby Mitts are the last alchemists, a more mystical, intuitive and experimental force of nature.
Referencing everything from The Kinks to The Bonzo Dog Band, Neu! to…well, seemingly anything that crosses their path, using everything from regular instruments to children’s toys and home fashioned creations, this truly is an album like no other you have heard and if it takes another eight years for a follow up of similar scope and quality, then I will deem it worth the wait.